CATARACT

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

WHAT IS CATARACT?

Cataract is a clouding of the natural lens inside the eye. The lens is part of the focusing system of the eye that enables an individual to see properly.

Cataract is the leading cause of blindness worldwide accounting for 51% cause of blindness. It is also the leading cause of blindness in Nigeria too (43% cause).

HOW WOULD I FEEL IF I HAVE CATARACT?

What you feel may vary, but most times you will notice a gradual reduction in vision in one or both eyes. It may be blurry or cloudy vision like harmattan. Other times, it may be that of poorer vision in bright light (glare).

WHAT CAUSES CATARACT?

AGE: This is the most common cause. As one gets older changes occur in the lens that results in cloudness and then cataract. These changes are worsened in the presence of diseases such as Diabetes and Hypertension. Exposure to environmental conditions like ultraviolet light and toxins can also aggravate the process.

TRAUMA: Blunt or penetrating eye trauma/injury such as a slap, punch or broomstick piercing the eye can result in cataract formation.

GENETICS: Genetics factors also play a role in the development of cataract. Cataract in childhood or early life can occasionally be due to genetic conditions (e.g Down Syndrome)

DRUG USE: Cigarette smoking has been shown to increase the rate of cataract development. Use of medication like steroids can also induce cataract development especially with prolong use.

OTHER CAUSES

– Radiation (especially UV-B)

– Skin disease like atopic dermatitis, eczema, ichthyosis

– Infections like leprosy, Onchocerciasis

– Eye inflammation especially chronic uveitis

 

HOW IS CATARACT PREVENTED?

No means of preventing cataracts has been scientifically proven. The following may help.

1. Wearing ultraviolet protecting sunglasses may slow down the development, especially if worn from early on in life.

2. The consumption of antioxidants (such as vitamin A, C and E) and nutrients (such as Lutein and Zeaxanthin) may be considered, though mixed evidence exists

HOW IS CATARACT DIAGNOSED?

Cataract is usually diagnosed following the examination of your eye by an eye doctor (Ophthalmologist or Optometrist). This can be during routine eye examination or following the complaint of poor vision.

HOW IS CATARACT TREATED?

1. Treatment involves performing an operation to remove the cloudy lens and replacing it with a clear lens implantĀ  by the Ophthalmologist.

2. The surgery can be performed at any stage of the cataract development. It no longer reqires ripening/maturity of the cataract before it is operated. The determining factor is visual disturbance of the patient.

3. Surgery is usually under local anesthesia, except in sepcial cases as in children when they are put t o sleep. You may be admitted into the hospital after the surgery.

4. The most widely used surgical procedure is the SMALL INCISION CATARACT SURGERY (SICS). This could be in the form of

– Manual SICS

– Automated SICS (Phacoemulsification)

– Femtosecond laser assisted procedure

5. More than 90% of the individuals have very good visual outcome following catract surgery by the Ophthalmologists.

WHAT TO AVOID AS TREATMENT

Do not patronize traditional eye treatment (COUCHING) or people who say they will treat it in your eyes or theirs. This is because moren injuries will be done to your eyes. These include Poorer Vision, Chronic Pain, Infection, and even loss of the Eye.